When women are most fertile they seek variety, so brand marketers take note

By Andrew MCDOUGALL contact

- Last updated on GMT

When women are most fertile they seek variety, so brand marketers take note

Related tags: Marketing

When women are at their most fertile they often seek more options in men, and this also leads to them seeking greater variety in consumer products such as what make-up and which brand to choose; so marketers take note, says a new study.

Research from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) College of Business suggests women seek more options in partners and products near ovulation, and are more likely to be loyal to brands and products at this time when they feel they are in a loving relationship.

Essentially, at this particular time of the month the study is suggesting that the desire to seek variety is heightened, and certain factors play their part.

The study's findings have practical implications for marketers. For instance, the researchers say that a company might appeal to ‘mate attraction motives’ in marketing messages to spur increased desire for variety and novelty in consumer choice.

"For about a week every month, normally cycling women--constituting over a billion consumers--may be especially likely to respond to appeals by competing brands to switch,"​ says lead author, Kristina M. Durante.

Choice behaviour

The research is to be published in the forthcoming April 2015 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research​, and is called ‘Playing the Field: The Effect of Fertility on Women's Desire for Variety’.

In it, the lead authors Ashley Rae Arsena and Durante say that this is some of the first evidence that choice behaviour in our personal relationships may influence choice behaviour in the marketplace.

Durante and then UTSA visiting assistant professor Arsena focused their predictions on previous research that finds that ovulation can shift women's mating psychology​.

"Just like a fisherman casting a wide net, ovulating women seek to cast a wide net into the dating pool and expand the number of potential suitors they have to choose from," ​says Durante, UTSA marketing assistant professor.

"And, this desire for variety in men at ovulation triggers a variety seeking mindset that carries over into desire for variety in products."

Variety trigger

The studies found that women's desire for new options in men triggered a variety seeking mindset that led women to also desire variety in products. Loyalty to a romantic partner reduced the desire for product variety, suggesting that loyalty in romantic relationships can translate to brand loyalty.

"From candy bars to cosmetics, ovulating women chose many different options--not just the same product or brand again and again,"​ continues Durante.

"However, when we had women imagine themselves in a loving relationship with a desirable partner, or when we had married women put on their wedding rings, they no longer desired variety near ovulation."

Four studies were conducted that included 553 female participants in the US between 18 and 40 years of age who were not pregnant or taking hormonal contraceptives.

Future research is needed to examine whether the social value, cost or rewarding nature of the product influences the effect of fertility on variety seeking.


Kristina M. Durante, Ashley Rae Arsena. Playing the Field: The Effect of Fertility on Women’s Desire for Variety​. Journal of Consumer Research​, 2014; 000 DOI:10.1086/679652

Related topics: Market Trends, Colour Cosmetics, Skin Care

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